South Lake Tahoe Evacuation Orders Lifted as Fire Worry Eases

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California authorities downgraded its evacuation order for South Lake Tahoe and nearby areas to a warning Sunday afternoon, paving the way for residents to return home. 

Firefighters continued to make headway against the wildfire that first erupted Aug. 14 in the hills east of Sacramento. Known as the Caldor Fire, the flames were 43% contained, up from 37% a day earlier, according to an update by California officials. 

Some residents started returning home Friday night and firefighters were “working hard” to get all residents back home, Barbara Rebiskie, public information officer for the state’s firefighting efforts on the Caldor fire, said Saturday morning.

South Lake Tahoe is the economic heart of the Lake Tahoe region, which attracts crowds year-round for its beaches, hiking trails, ski resorts and casinos. The area also became a popular landing place for remote workers from the San Francisco Bay Area during the Covid-19 pandemic, sending real estate prices soaring. 

At the southern tip of the sparkling freshwater lake, which straddles California and Nevada, South Lake Tahoe has about 22,000 residents who had been under mandatory evacuation orders since Monday as flames swept down a nearby mountain and wind gusts blew sparks onto bone-dry land.

The fire has burned more than 215,400 acres. Authorities continue to warn about heavy smoke expected in the area. 

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